Matthew Marshall – Merkur Spiel-Arena
Bayern Munich recorded a routine 4-0 victory against Fortuna Düsseldorf at the Merkur Spiel-Arena with the Bavarians too good in every department. Benjamin Pavard, Corentin Tolisso, Serge Gnabry and Philippe Coutinho grabbed the goals as Hansi Flick’s reign as Bayern caretaker manager continues to flourish.
Result never in doubt
There were many similarities with Bayern’s 4-1 win in Düsseldorf last season as the Bavarians bossed the game and cruised to the finish line. The pattern was established in the early stages with the Bundesliga champions monopolising possession and keeping Fortuna firmly on the back foot.
The hosts fell asleep in the 11th minute as Bayern’s short corner routine saw a Joshua Kimmich cross barely touch Benjamin Pavard for the opener. Zack Steffen’s poor pass was intercepted by Thomas Müller who released Serge Gnabry, the in-form forward finding Corentin Tolisso who made it 2-0 in the 27th minute.
Seven minutes later Philippe Coutinho found Pavard in open space, his cross causing confusion in the box where Müller put the ball on a plate for Serge Gnabry who couldn’t miss. Philippe Coutinho started a Bayern Munich fast break that he finished off in the 70th minute after some nice work from Robert Lewandowski, ensuring that all of Bayern’s forwards came away with a goal or an assist.
The stats show that Bayern Munich enjoyed 71% possession and 3.82-0.44 expected goals, a true reflection of the game that was confirmed on the scoreboard.
Hansi Flick on fire
Hansi Flick’s reign as Bayern interim boss couldn’t have started much better after two easy home wins, 2-0 win against Olympiakos followed by a 4-0 crushing of Borussia Dortmund. Another 4-0 win in Düsseldorf provides more that sticking with Flick could be a viable option.
The availability of top level managers could be a factor in Bayern’s long term plans, but there doesn’t appear to be much reason for looking further afield right now.
The strength of Bayern Munich’s squad was never in question but we are currently seeing it utilised to the full. The injuries to Lucas Hernández and Niklas Süle in combination with Jérôme Boateng’s suspension has resulted in David Alaba and Javi Martínez playing in central defence with Alphonso Davies getting plenty of minutes at left-back.
Alaba’s speed and confidence bringing the ball out of defence are useful attributes and Davies can only benefit from getting extended playing time. Corentin Tolisso, Leon Goretzka and Thiago are all versatile central midfielders who can play in a variety of roles in front of or beside Joshua Kimmich.
Despite the quality of defenders currently missing, bringing Ivan Perisic, Thiago and Leon Goretzka off the bench highlights the strength in depth other clubs can only dream about and a large reason why Bayern Munich appear back on track for an eighth straight Bundesliga title.
Robert Lewandowski has been in sensational form this season, scoring in every Bundesliga match with a tally of 16 goals in Bayern’s opening 11 matches. He looked certain to continue that run in the early going as he found space in the box but was unable to find a clear shot at goal.
His link up play is always at a high level however and he went close to providing an assist for Müller before his cross saw Gnabry hit the post. Lewandowski had a great chance to score from Pavard’s cross, his header forcing a fine save from Steffen but he was on hand to assist Coutinho for Bayern’s fourth goal.
Coutinho & Müller
The Coutinho & Müller conundrum seemed the stump Niko Kovac and we saw Flick start both players in Düsseldorf. Coutinho occupied the left wing and was quiet in the first half but came to life and gained confidence after alternating positions with Müller and Gnabry.
The Brazilian shot wide from a Pavard cross but started and finished the move for Bayern’s fourth goal. It’s going to take time for Coutinho to gel and get used to playing a variety of positions with and without Müller in the side, an interesting work in progress and one to watch in the coming weeks.
Fortuna are fighting against relegation
Fortuna Düsseldorf finished 23 points clear of automatic relegation last season and the early exploits of Rouwen Hennings has their head above water this campaign. Defeat against Bayern Munich is expected and won’t damage morale, but it’s still looking like a long and tough season ahead for Friedhelm Funkel’s side.
They created chances against the champions with Hennings and Dawid Kownacki looking the most likely, but Fortuna’s finishing was poor and Manuel Neuer was largely untested. Expect to see more formation and line up tinkering from Funkel with a tough run of fixtures ahead of a home match against Union Berlin on 22 December.